Tag Archive | book reviews

The Late Bloomer Harry Potter Fan

After the addiction with the Hunger Games trilogy, I was shaking uncontrollably and there were inevitable moments of hallucination. I guess that’s the withdrawal syndrome. My best friend was at my aid, so she sent me more addictive stuff. Just kidding, hehe. Bes gave me more e-books to read which include the complete Harry Potter series, works of Nicholas Sparks, Paolo Coelho, and the famous 7 Habits of Highly Effective People among others. With all these wonderful writings, choosing was a bit difficult but I thought I’ll save the romance for later, the human understanding next, and being highly effective last (haha).

Reading the HP series was actually a long overdue goal. Just like with THG, I was the listener while the rest of the world conversed about this new book. At first, I even regarded the book as atrocious because people kept commenting about the bad influence it impressed over the young ones. Then I guessed the book must be really good to attract this much criticism. When the first movie was released, I almost laughed at my expectations. It’s a fantasy alright, and not at all wicked. Kids would tend to imagine things like this anyway, HP or no HP, so it didn’t deserve this grave criticism at all.

Well, onto my experience with reading the book. First, I’ve watched several HP movies but never got straight which is which from the sequence. I don’t enjoy watching as much as reading so the only occasions I viewed HP was when my brothers would watch them too. Sometimes I’d watch the latter part, other times the first. Either way, it’s usually just midway so you’d probably understand my confusion. I recognized scenes from the movie though, while reading, and it was like fitting pieces of a puzzle while the story unfolds. It’s not a very thrilling experience because I’ve been spared of the imagination factor. Everything, from characters to setting to plot, had been provided already. Nevertheless, HP movies deserve praise based from these aspects because they depicted the books very well.

Now that I’ve finished reading the 1st book, I realized I’ve become a HP fan myself. JK Rowling is a tremendously great story – teller. I secretly envy her for inventing Bettie Bott’s Every Flavoured Bean. It’s such an innocent creation with just a hint of naughtiness in it, the kind I trusted my mind to come up with. And I really find Dumbledore’s vomit-and-earwax-flavoured-bean-experience the best, haha! She’s such a natural humorist, throwing witty and sarcastic dialogues all throughout the pages. And without question, she has a very imaginative mind, down from the wizard terms, the train station, disappearing stores, moving stairs and photos, the sorting cap, every foreign thing seemed real and it’s no wonder kids probably hoped to receive a letter from Hogwarts right after reading the book. Even the broomstick, which isn’t a new thing with witches and wizards, was given a different light that made the idea interesting rather than creepy.

My favourite part was Harry’s conversation with Dumbledore, after he had defeated Quirell and Voldemort. I was particularly impressed with how Harry found the Sorcerer’s Stone: only one who wanted to find the Stone – find it, but not use it – would be able to get it. Brilliant, isn’t it? And she did have several perceptive ideas expressed through Dumbledore in the last parts and let me quote:

“…humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.”
“Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”
“The truth… It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”

And just like any other fairy tale, the HP book 1 had a happy ending with Gryffindors beating the nasty Slytherins for the first time after 6 years. Meanwhile, while the rest of the HP fans are silently mournful for HP’s coming to an end, I think I’ll savor the other 6 remaining books. I guess this is one of the benefits of being a late bloomer. 🙂

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3 Books Rolled Into 1: For the Love of Peeta

That’s it. All 3 books finished and though the 1st book was a lovely read, I had to say that the next one was quite good, the last one a drag. All in all, I guess I was just after Peeta who eventually outshined Katniss from my point of view. If I had not cheated reading the last part wherein Peeta, not Gale, ended up with Katniss, I guess reading the book would have taken me a longer time. I’m glad the story ended the way it did, but a lot of characters died in book 3 that it depresses me. Prim, of all people, to think that Katniss volunteered and underwent all the disaster just to protect her, died in the end. I wanted to say, what the?! when I reached that part, and had to read all over from when Katniss went hallucinating over the last blasts from the parachutes to check if I’d been reading things correctly. It was just so sad, and I had tears in my eyes when Buttercup returned to the Victor’s Village and Katniss had to drive him away because Prim’s dead.

* sigh * What was I thinking anyway? That after book 1 Peeta and Katniss would snuggle in each other’s arms at District 12? Maybe not, or Katniss would lose the charm she has when she’s tough. Affection is Peeta’s forte, not hers. Besides, Hunger Games is not a love story (really, is it not?) and didn’t I hate love stories anyway? But reading through the 1st part of book 2 at least made me wanna freeze the story to the part where they lived in Victor’s Village adapting an impressive routine; Katniss hunts, Peeta bakes, and Haymitch, their mentor, drains liquor bottle after bottle. The story of the Hunger Games was completely out of my mind then. I just wanted to know what happened to the characters I’ve grown familiar with and loved.

In book 2, there was more humour and more characters were explored. It would have been a cheery scene after the Tributes’ parade except for the nagging fact that this is a fight to the death. Finnick was funny in his own sensual way and Johanna’s viciousness was ironically appealing. Both characters were likewise realistic. I particularly had to laugh when she stripped herself naked of the stupid tree costume and went about how idiot were her prep team compared to theirs. I was thinking, I’d like to have a friend like her, if only I could trust her not to break my neck in a fit of petty quarrel. And though Finnick was presented in an aggressive way, it later turned out that he was a great and loyal ally. The Quarter Quell, which was a “special” kind of Hunger Games done every 25th year, was altogether okay thinking that I don’t have to feel scared for Peeta or Katniss’ life. I knew they’d survive. There was just one problem. The other tributes were likeable enough to make me want to keep them. My expectations were met as all of these favorite characters endured the Games. Afterwards, I just couldn’t wait for more romantic encounters between Peeta and Katniss. Sadly, there’s none after the Games ended in book 2.

In book 3, there was less mention about Peeta in the beginning except that I knew he was kept prisoner at the Capitol. Since he was my favorite character, it explains my previous assessment that book 3 was a drag. I just kept waiting for him to re-appear until curiosity was killing me I could no longer contain questions of whether he is still alive or if he’s going to be mentioned again. So I had to cheat. I read the last paragraph before the epilogue. There was Peeta, and he ended up with Katniss after all. Somehow my agitation subsided. Next, I couldn’t wait until he’s rescued. When he was, they discovered that the Capitol used a torturing technique and the effect was he no longer recognized Katniss. Quite the opposite, he viewed her as an enemy. Violent hands replaced the steady hands which were always ready to offer her comfort. The altered Peeta wanted to strangle her or even more passionate, bash her brains out. So next, I was only waiting for the old kind Peeta to emerge again. The cheating had to be excused because my anticipation of the things that would happen to Peeta helped me manage to read through the dreadful combat parts. Dreadful was not even attributed to the violence. I just find war and action movies (stories) boring and book 3 was mostly on plotting a war against Capitol and you could just imagine the details on military and such. Plus, Collins kept on killing the characters I love, Finnick then Prim it was just so heart breaking.

Finally, I was left wondering if an innocent girl like Katniss could really turn a whole country into chaos by just holding out her hands with nightlock berries to the audience. And then I’m briefly reminded by Peeta “you still don’t have an idea, the effect she can have.” So I just say to myself, “Fine.” If Peeta says it, then I believe it. 🙂

Hungry for More: Hunger Games Review

* CONTAINS SPOILERS, LOTS OF SPOILERS!

For those who haven’t read the book, this paragraph and the next are all that you should read or I might spoil the book’s flavor to your content. My first impression of the book was a televised contest, much like the reality game Survivor we watch on TV, although this was a final word in the meaning of survival, where people battle to the death literally. And unlike the Survivor series, contestants in the Hunger Games were more obligatory than voluntary. Who wants to risk their life for a game after all?

Over the weekends, I have finished the book at incredible speed considering that I have 2 toddlers clinging to me every minute that they’re awake leaving me only when it’s night and by that time, I’m too exhausted to read even a couple of pages. What I did was to wake up earlier and while the rest of the family is still asleep, I devoured the book like a hungry wolf. At this rate, I read the whole book by Sunday morning, and it wasn’t to my credit but to the book all by itself. Somehow, it has an unseen force which made it hard for me to stop reading and left me still pondering even when the story’s over.

From the beginning, the story was already intense. With the world characterized by the situation we so currently prevent at present to happen, the rich holding the common people by the neck, it’s no wonder that the adrenalin rush might be one reason to keep the readers going, no, yearning for more. And the heroine, Katniss, is just so likeable. I have always loved females who represent a paradox of being strong and weak at the same time.

The Hunger Games was something that the Capitol invented for Panem to remind the people how they are so totally under their hands. Each 12 Districts are mandated to sacrifice Tributes, one girl and one boy from 12-18 years of age, to battle each other to death. Katniss was spared during the drawing of the names but the ironic twist was, her younger sister, just 12 and gentle as a flower, was drawn instead. She loves Primrose more than anything and voluntarily takes her place. To add intensity, the boy who got drawn, Peeta, had an important role in Katniss’ life as well, although they have no direct relationship. During Katniss’ most desperate times, Peeta once got himself beaten up by his mother when he deliberately burned the bread to have something to give to her when even the garbage bin she’s scavenging was empty. They were a lot younger then but it’s quite presumable enough, that Peeta had loved Katniss all his life. The odds were definitely not in Katniss’ favor during the drawing of names.

If I could have read as fast as the DVD player can forward, I would have done it. Surely, there has to be only one winner and no doubt it will be Katniss but because Peeta is so willing to sacrifice himself for the love of Katniss, it’s just heartbreaking if he dies. From that moment, I began wishing that they both live in the end but the question would be how? Or if Peeta dies, how too?

The next series were charming as well when they get teamed up with a novice but creative designer, Cinna, who managed to make them both outstanding at the parade where Tributes were introduced. They needed this much attention because although they’d be very much dead by the end of the Games, they’ll need to attract sponsors to aid them while they fight to stay alive as long as they can. Their chances were not altogether attributable to Cinna though. Katniss did manage to impress the Gamemakers by shooting an arrow right through the roasted pig’s direction, which seemed more interesting to the judges at first than her skills with archery. And despite the other Tributes who careered this game from when they were young, usually coming from richer Districts, she outscored them all with 11 out of 10. But what made her most likeable and even unforgettable to the people was Peeta’s confession. During the interview with the Tributes, he confessed that winning is a difficult thing because the girl he loves for all his life came with him to compete for the Games. Katniss was furious and Peeta was compelled to say that this act was part of strategy to get more attention, and sponsors. Although the prestige was beneficial, it also reaped hatred from the most vicious Tribute, Cato who promised to hunt her down right then.

Inside the arena, Peeta’s real intentions and motives were confusing. Well, of course, for the readers, it might have been clear from the very beginning, from the moment Katniss remembered the incident with the burnt bread that gave her hope when she was at the brink of giving up, that Peeta was trying all means to protect and let her win. One incident, she discovered Peeta teaming up with the brutal Career Tributes. But when close encounters with Cato arose, Peeta warned her to run and he received a cut from Cato’s sword in return.

Katniss was left wondering at this change in events but she knew that she was once again indebted to Peeta for he had saved her life. She started to worry about his condition, because Cato would never leave him without revenge. She just knew that he was still alive as long as his face did not appear in the sky, which was the Games’ way of telling the contestants who among them had just been eliminated. With their love story stirring interest to the people of Capitol, the Gamemakers made another twist in their rules: they allowed 2 winners that year if both of them come from the same district. Katniss immediately searched for Peeta.

The next events were somewhat romantic save the fact that both of them were trapped in an arena fighting for their lives and that she found Peeta camouflaging himself in the mud, the last resort of the dying. But I have always waited for the moment when Peeta became open with his feelings while Katniss took this as an act, again to give entertainment and attract sponsors. I had never been a fan of love stories, they are the least appealing genres to me. But Katniss was so innocent and Peeta was so noble which made the love story part pleasant to me. For the rest of the games, Katniss went all means to restore Peeta to life. Although I had to admit, her innocence about Peeta’s true feelings was a little overdone. I mean, at some point inside the arena, she must have discovered and more importantly, felt that Peeta was not at all acting. This could do less difference in the story after all. She could just pretend to love him back for the audience which is what she did anyway. It’s just that I think, learning about Peeta’s true feelings seem more realistic.

They defeated Cato last, but not by their efforts alone. Sometimes, when things were a bit slow with the Tributes, no encounters, no casualties, the Gamemakers would bring in a few dangers themselves such as the man made fire and the mutated wolves which was mostly responsible for Cato’s death and Peeta’s fatal leg injury. As if the Gamemakers were not yet satisfied, they tried to revoke the rule about 2 winners. I found this part very moving when Peeta took out his knife and as an instinct, Katniss pointed her arrow to his heart and was a little too late to realize that the knife had been released at from his hands. This shamed her much but Peeta convinced her to kill him, that to die is what he wanted and when she let go of the weapon in her hand, he removed his leg’s bandage to bleed to death. There has to be a victor. This principle gave Katniss the idea which saved them both. If they both died, then the Capitol had failed to give a victor. Finally, they agreed to just eat the poison berries together in an act of suicide which was of course, interrupted by the Gamemakers as both of them were declared victors in that instant.

Now we know that Peeta’s motive to let Katniss win was because of his love for her. Katniss on the other hand has different motives, as demonstrated in her earlier instinct to kill Peeta. Because she realized that she was becoming more and more indebted to Peeta, even if she wins, she’d never get out of the arena for the rest of her life, and I agree. It will haunt her forever if she killed the person who gave her only love from the beginning. So she’d rather chosen death because winning meant lifetime imprisonment in guilt. And in fact, if it was I in her shoes, I’d probably have fallen in love with Peeta already.

All in all, it was a delightful read, heart throbbing love story. It mostly evolved in choosing the Tributes, introducing them like regular contestants to a game, and how they survived in the arena during the game, the Hunger Games. But if I am to dig deeper, the love story is what I liked best which is somewhat surprising because as I have said, I don’t like cheesy and mushy romance. Peeta did discover that Katniss’ love was just an act and that everything will change the moment they return home and in the end, he was gradually detaching himself from her already. It was hanging really, when he asked for her hand and said “One more time? For the audience?” and Katniss dreading the moment she’d let go. It was hanging the way I wanted to know what happened to her sister Prim, her best friend Gale, who weren’t reasonably explored as characters. And more importantly, what happens to Peeta whom I started to become very fond of. Lucky thing, Book 2 is just waiting for me to be read. And in the meantime I am ending this review, I’d definitely recommend this book as a GREAT read. As for me, I’d move on to the next book hoping that Peeta not Gale, would end up with Katniss. 🙂 and may the odds be ever in our favor 😉

Book Reviews

For the past weeks, life had become VERY busy and action-filled for me. I think I’m overdoing my “pro-activity” resolution but honestly, I’m enjoying every bit of my busy life. I realized though, that my plan to write a review about the book by Sophie Kinsella had been buried in the heap of my activities. Actually, my enthusiasm over the book had gradually receded because I have read two more books after that. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech had been a delightful read and altogether drowned my fondness over Twenties Girl while Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George was somewhat just okay. But because I can no longer recover my initial excitement over Kinsella’s book, I decided to make reviews for all three of them instead.

Twenties Girl


At the beginning of the story, my interest was softened a little on the part where the ghost of Sadie appears before Lara. First off, I do not really believe in people’s soul coming back in the form of ghosts. Despite ignoring this fact because after all, the story was FICTION, why didn’t Sadie come back as a 100-year old woman? These questions had to be overcome though, and in the end the reader will realize why Sadie returned as 23 and not 100. Even though we get older, there is this undeniable truth that we retain the certain age wherein we are most happy and that the aging body is just casing. What’s inside is still the Jenny I knew several years ago. Overall, I enjoyed the book up to the end.

It was really hilarious to start with. Although my personality is not similar with either Lara or Sadie, there were several times when I can almost associate myself with both girls. Maybe that’s what made the story so appealing especially to girls. Lara and Sadie somehow represent women of various characters. I ended up wishing I had my own Sadie, too. A ghost by your side is especially helpful in understanding people’s actions like the part where Lara was clueless why her ex left her. I believed Lara didn’t really want her ex back. It was just her pride of being left hanging and not knowing what’s going on, that kept her persistent to have her ex back. Although she was able to get her ex to love her again by force (through Sadie’s ghostly influence), in the end, she herself realized that the relationship was anything but real and let go.

And the introduction of a new love life for Lara was charming. It wasn’t anything cheesy (I hate cheesy parts) and the love triangle was as innocent as it can be. It was just so natural and realistic, well except for the ghost part (hehe).

The ending was quite sad. I almost wished that Sadie would refuse to receive the dragonfly necklace, which was the root cause of Sadie’s ghostly appearance, and give it to Lara instead. If she does that however, she will not be able to rest. But that would be okay, because it means having her around forever. Well, I was glad Ms. Kinsella ended the story on her own way. It was sad but definitely better. It made the story even more realistic with the idea that the inevitable, although unwanted, is sometimes better.

Walk Two Moons


This Newberry awarded book for young adults was written with so much simplicity that I underestimated its character and impact. The story was about Salamanca or Sal, and her quest to have her mother back. Her mother recently left her and her father, causing them to move to Ohio. There she met Phoebe Winterbottom who became her friend. On her road trip with her grandparents to see her mother, Sal tells of the story of Phoebe’s mother which was somehow similar with hers.

The theme was about suspense and prejudice. One was about Mrs. Cadaver, who wrote letters to Sal’s father and whom his father often visits for dinner. She hated Mrs. Cadaver for apparently replacing her mother. Then Phoebe’s mother gets an unexpected visit from a strange boy and soon afterwards disappeared. Phoebe suspects the strange boy to be a “potential lunatic” who kidnapped her mother and in the course of tracking him down, they discovered them sitting side by side holding each other’s hand. At the surface, one can see that Phoebe’s mother might have been cheating on her husband and that could have been the same case with Sal’s while Mrs. Cadaver was trying to replace her missing mother. But through the end, there was a beautiful twist in the story. Phoebe’s mother came back, totally different from her own “respectable” image. Short haired and dressed liberally, she confessed to her family that she had a secret son before her marriage. Here, the author offered that love is greater than reputation. Phoebe’s father immediately forgives and haves her mother back.

While the story of Phoebe was resolved, Sal’s story was gradually unfolding to its end. She reaches her mother’s grave in time for her mother’s birthday and discovers a touching truth. Her mother was among the victims of the bus accident and the sole survivor was Mrs. Cadaver. On their way, they became friends such that when Mrs. Cadaver awoke from the accident, she wrote to Sal’s father telling him how sorry she was for the loss of such a great person. Sal’s father, who seemed happy during the dinner with Mrs. Cadaver, was actually hankering for more stories about her mother. Phoebe wept upon this confession and her view of Mrs. Cadaver was changed forever.

It was a truly beautiful story for me where profound insights were laid before the readers so casually. I actually found this read better than Twenties Girl which is why the excitement in making a review died. I say, it was replaced (hehe).

Julie of the Wolves


This book had been a little difficult to finish. One factor could be the high expectation since this book was also Newberry awarded. Another could be the manner in which the book was written. Unlike Walk Two Moons with 44 chapters, this one has only 3 parts. The continuity was sometimes tiring I guess.

The first part was Julie’s dilemma. She ran away from home and got lost in the tundra. In order to survive, she learned the ways of a wolf pack and was soon adopted by the leader wolf. At this part, Julie became inclined to her Eskimo ways and her name Miyax. She realized the wisdom behind her culture’s practices and how it helped her to survive. Her admiration for her father, who taught her everything she used for survival, deepened as she remembers every useful advice.

The second part tells us of her past and how she had gotten lost in the wilderness. When her father, Kapugen, was forced to serve for war and never came back, Julie was also forced to lived with her strict aunt. In order to escape, she agrees to an arranged marriage with the son of her father’s friend. Things were fine at first and she discovered that Daniel, her husband, did not bother her or obliged her to be his wife. But people were teasing him “dumb” for having a wife he cannot mate. One day, he came home and forced Julie which was the reason for her running away. Julie had a pen pal in San Francisco. She decided to go there.

In the third part, the story tells of Julie’s confusion on whether to retain her Eskimo ways or live Americanized. In the course of her journey, she witnessed the cruel hunting games of humans from which her beloved wolf leader died. Appalled, she changed her mind about coming to San Francisco and decided to live alone as an Eskimo. By and by though, she learned that her father was still alive. Full of excitement at their first meeting, she was later disgusted to have learned that her father remarried a white woman and abandoned their Eskimo ways by owning a plane used for hunting games. She left and went back to her camp but in the end, decided that “the hour of the wolf and the Eskimo is over.” The writer ended the story with “Julie pointed her boots towards Kapugen.”

When she first decided to see her father again, George wrote “Miyax pointed her boots toward Kapugen” and Julie pretends she doesn’t understand English and speaks only her native tongue. With the ending words plus her singing in English, it can be deducted that Julie decided to abandon her Eskimo ways, although not whole heartedly. In fact, I’d say it was triggered by the death of her pet bird. She knew she could not live alone therefore she’d just go with the flow of life.

It was a good story all in all, but it didn’t strike me with a great impact. Not like Walk Two Moons. Still, it left me with the realization that our choices may not always be what we like. I believed Julie was prouder of her Eskimo way of life but in order to survive, she had to abandon these ways.

Bob Ong’s Ang Mga Kaibigan Ni Mama Susan

I got Bob Ong’s Ang Mga Kaibigan Ni Mama Susan since last January as a gift for my sister on her 18th birthday. Actually, I was just brainstorming about what to give Olie. Or more like, which book, since I knew that books (and cats) are the things that make her most happy. Then quite coincidental, I chanced upon my friends talking about this new book on Facebook (right on their public walls haha). What intrigued me was that one of them said that she almost didn’t see the scary thing at the back cover. The curious cat that I am, a decision was immediately made. Olie liked Bob Ong and I wanted to see this book plus, it was an advantage that his books were relatively cheaper. 😉 So the moment I got hold of the book, I instantly looked at the back cover. True enough, there was a face hidden behind what seems like a torn part of a journal. If I had not been informed beforehand, I would hardly notice it. Afterwards, I felt a little regretful for spoiling what could probably be the climax of this story. Anyway, I didn’t plan to read the book right away so I was thinking I’d probably forget this little spoiler by then. (Of course I was just fooling myself.)

After months from first seeing the book and hibernating from reading overall, I felt a sudden thirst for books again and my initial prey was Peter Straub’s Koko. After reading a few chapters though, I accidentally left the book at the office and ON A WEEKEND! So I lost appetite. Quite a good thing, Olie visited last weekend and brought along Bob Ong’s book. I almost forgot that I still planned to read this book but naturally, I did not forget the scary face at the back cover, haha. I decided that this was the perfect time to finally give this a try.

As it turned out, the hidden picture did not play a very important role in the story but I learned that the face belonged to Mama Susan. I could have finished the book without ever knowing that she was hiding there at all! The story was written in journal style. I found it cute because personally, I love writing journals and from this premise alone, I already associated myself with the book whatever might be written there.

The first journals introduced the protagonist as a male college student. The time setting was difficult to determine at first although the journal date was 1998-1999. His casual use of words like “potah, ampotah, potek, paker and paksyit” was illustrative of this current generation’s teenagers. Not that young people didn’t use to curse before but they sure would have spelled them differently. I believe that this “creative” style of writing was the influence of the later cell phone domination (Jejemon era if I may say). But the existence of 98 Degrees, Godzilla, Armageddon, Intel Celeron, Tamagotchi, Beeper(!) plus the fact that Nokia 5110 was described as expensive consistently supported the time setting.

Galo, the protagonist, apparently wrote his journals as a school project. This would help the readers understand why he did such a thing because diaries and teenage guys just don’t mix. However, towards the end of the story, Galo actually liked the idea of writing and at some point could be commended as slightly good at it. Based from his entries, it could be depicted that he was struggling with life as a college student living with relatives. His parents abandoned him and he grew up with his grandmother in Tarmanes, a distant province, where much of the story evolved later on.

The first part of the story revolved around Galo’s school life: the typical heartaches, dilemma on projects and exams, struggles of living with his uncle’s family and the constant worry of where to get money for his next tuition fee or allowance. His uncle and his family were fairly kind but despite this fact, it is understandable that Galo still felt embarrassed to ask for help when his funds were running low. In between his routinary student life, Galo also experienced of haunting dreams about an eerie old woman with black skin and unseen face. By and by, Galo received message from Tarmanes that his grandmother was terribly ill. The current tension in his uncle’s house made him decide to finally go while in the middle of the school semester. This was the horrendous part of the story.

Most people find the first part of the story as boring and irrelevant but I believe it is necessary to establish the main character’s person. Personally, I perceive Galo as a profound person because he keeps a journal while most male students of his age couldn’t care less about what goes on with their everyday lives. He could be seen as somewhat emotional too, as he said, “Aaminin ko naiinggit ako, pero hindi sa computer. Sa magulang.” For me, Galo may almost be the good-boy type hiding beneath the typical mischiefs of a young man. So I was a little surprised when at the end, Mama Susan had to condemn him about abandoning a girl after impregnating her among other bad behaviours.

Over all, there were too many questions left after reading this book. The very ending itself left me hanging. Incredible, I thought as I checked cautiously for subsequent pages. That can’t be the ending. But since it was, I thought instead that I might have missed something and started reading the book all over again. A few pages through, I realized perhaps there were no hidden clues just like with other stories that you understand better at second reading. It was just that, plain and simple. Readers were left to speculate and it was a powerful way to categorize the book as “memorable.” There are books remembered for being “good” or “bad.” Nevertheless, they are remembered. That is how it is with this book (being good or bad depending on the reader) and I think it is better than having to be read at all, and then unconsciously buried and forgotten.

Besides the ending, the title of the book made me question why and how. Halfway through at first reading, I kept waiting for any mention of Mama Susan and her friends. And the overall message which Bob Ong might want to convey had been a difficult point for me. Mama Susan and her friends talked about the defects of modern religions but their traditional idea of religion itself was equally sordid if not worst. If Mama Susan indeed wants Galo to learn about righteous living, in my opinion, she failed. A mistake could not be righted by another mistake.

And I could not totally agree with the idea that to counteract total dependence on technology, people must oppose to all kinds of civilization and comforts in living. I say, that the development of knowledge was there for a purpose. If man would not become prisoners of greed and learn to keep in mind that he is above the technology he created, then advancement need not be viewed as evil. On the contrary, dissemination of something good is equally thriving on technology as well.

Other flaws that were glaring at me while I was reading the book include the extraordinary ability of Galo to write down the lengthy recitation of Mama Susan or her friends, considering that their original declamation pieces were of uncommon subject and language. Another was the extremely detailed accounts of their horrifying experiences in Tarmanes. On the verge of hysteria or maybe even death itself, Galo even had the sense to remember every minute detail of what was happening (i.e. Labinlimang metro na lang ang matanda… Sampung metro… Limang metro.) Perhaps if it was I on his shoes, I’d probably be blank about most of it. Also, the existence of the two young children Jezel and Niko seemed out of place. This made too much impracticality in the story. For one thing, Mama Susan took care of them as toddlers? That’s quite handful for an old woman, no, it can not be (speaking from experience with my own set of toddlers, hehe). Then, only to find out that they had no relevant participation towards the end of the story. They both disappeared apparently killed or perhaps consumed by Mama Susan’s friends. But then again if they were to be killed why not before? Why did they have to wait until Galo arrived?

Looking beyond these flaws and endless why’s, I did enjoy the book. What particularly caught my attention was Galo’s realization that someone else had been writing Latin prayers in between his journal entries. In the end, I even thought of finding out what these Latin words mean thinking that they could be clues to what happened to Galo at the end. But as I have said, perhaps there were really no hidden clues, just like the hidden face at the back cover of the book. If I might make a connection by learning out what the foreign words mean, then in Mama Susan’s name, I’ll research these words’ meanings and there better be a connection.

References:
Ong, Bob. (2010) Ang mga kaibigan ni Mama Susan. Brgy. San Roque, Pasay City: Visprint, Inc.